The rape of a two-year-old Bishkek boy earlier in January is fueling a nationwide debate: should Kyrgyzstan reintroduce capital punishment for such heinous crimes? While passions rage in parliament and the media, rights activists say Kyrgyzstan’s corrupt and unaccountable courts should not be trusted on matters of life and death.
In response to heated public discussions, where some have called for vigilante groups to hunt down and kill alleged sexual predators, on January 27 Prime Minister Djoomart Otorbaev recommended displaying large portraits of rapists in public squares, the state-run Kabar news agency quoted him as saying. He also said he supports reintroducing the death penalty for anyone convicted of sexually assaulting a child.
In a country where years of corruption and misrule mean the public today has little trust in its officials, it is perhaps not surprising that some are turning to vigilantism. On January 8, in the village of Sokoluk, just outside the capital, locals beat to death a 43-year-old man they accused of raping a local man.
Anger is also being directed at Kyrgyzstan’s notoriously opaque court system.
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